First look at Serpentine Pavilion 2022 | Black Chapel by Theaster Gates

Serpentine Pavilion 2022, Black Chapel, designed by Theaster Gates. Design render, interior view © 2022 Theaster Gates Studio

American artist and urban planner Theaster Gates has revealed his vision for this year’s Serpentine Pavilion, a circular, timber-built structure with community at its heart. 

Named Black Chapel, the 10.7 metre-tall wooden pavilion with an open oculus in its roof has been designed by Theaster Gates with the architectural support of Adjaye Associates. Inspiration was drawn from the great pottery kilns of Stoke-on-Trent and will “pay homage to British craft and manufacturing traditions”, according to the artist. 

Gates was named as the 2022 Serpentine Pavilion designer last year, and with this honour he becomes the first non-architect to receive the annual commission. The design highlights the artist’s passion for space-making through urban and architectural interventions, and offers a “sanctuary-like environment” as he describes it. 

“The name Black Chapel is important because it reflects the invisible parts of my artistic practice,” he said. “It acknowledges the role that sacred music and the sacred arts have had on my practice, and the collective quality of these emotional and communal initiatives.”

Black Chapel also suggests that in these times there could be a space where one could rest from the pressures of the day and spend time in quietude. I have always wanted to build spaces that consider the power of sound and music as a healing mechanism and emotive force that allows people to enter a space of deep reflection and/or deep participation.” 

Conceived as a platform for participation and live performances, Black Chapel will open to the public on 10th June 2022 and host a series of live performances over the summer. 

The lightweight and fully demountable timber structure will begin its life on site in Kensington Gardens for this occasion, and then it will be re-sited to a permanent location in the future. 

Theaster Gates © Sara Pooley

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